From Oct. 23 to Oct. 29, the University library publicized its support of Open Access Week, an international event promoting the standardization of open access to peer-reviewed work in academia.

“Open access,’” a term coined in the 1990s, is a movement that all research be freely available and accessible online. It has become “central to advancing the interest of researchers, scholars, students, business and the public — as well as libraries,” wrote the University library in an Oct. 23 blog post.

The library is aiming to create awareness for the movement and is itself invested in expanding open access in several ways, said Manager of Electronic Resources Katherine Collins in an interview with the Justice. 

One way the library is doing this is through its support of open access collections. These are collections “done through crowdsourcing with libraries … for the purpose of making those collections more widely available to everyone,” said Collins. 

Brandeis currently supports two such crowdsourcing programs, Digital Reveal and Knowledge Unlatched. Funding models within these programs vary, with some allowing support by specialized collection or discipline. However, most libraries are contributing across the board. 

The Open Access campaign calls for libraries to use their acquisition dollars to contribute to these open access collections, rather than to continue buying traditional collections for local use. 

Depending on the program, libraries are supporting not only the acquisition of new scholarly research but also the preservation of older books, newspapers and journals. 

While the cost of acquiring new materials continues to rise, library collection budgets remain pretty flat or get small angle increases, said Collins. Participating in open access funding is a way to ameliorate these budget limitations. 

As Collins explained, “Open access isn’t ‘free’ free; it’s a different sort of model of publishing. In traditional publishing, you’re paying [for] access through subscriptions or [by] purchasing the book outright, but with these models, … the material is freely available to all once the funding goal is met.”

By removing the barrier of subscription, research is made more widely available, immediately. Once a collection is unlocked, all one needs is the web address and an internet connection to access the resource. 

This benefits not only institutionally affiliated researchers but also the independent researcher and universities in developing countries that might not have the financial resources to purchase specialized collections behind high cost barriers, said Collins.

Another open access program the University participates in is HathiTrust Digital Library, a closed membership between participating academic and research institutions. While not available to the public, that program aims to digitize and share locally owned materials on one platform.

The long-term goal for the University library is to be able to allocate more of its acquisition budget toward open -access resources versus traditional subscriptions, as well as continue the campaign to persuade more “research funders and policy-makers [to] endorse this new model of publishing,” according to the blog post. 

The Brandeis Open Access Fund is also available by application to help any faculty, staff or students who are interested in publishing in open access journals. 

“We want to encourage folks who don’t have funding available to still be able to publish in open access journals,” said Collins, adding that the fund can help cover fees for author processing. 

The theme of this year’s 10th anniversary Open Access Week was “Open in order to…,” a phrase that urges consideration of not only what openness means for the institution, but also for the individual.

As of press time, 543,611 articles exist in open-access repositories, according to the Open Access Scholarly Publishing Association.